The tests showed that dogs and wolves are equally good at problem-solving tasks which include retrieving pieces of food from a designated container.
Individuals with Williams-Beuren syndrome have structural variations on the same part of the genome, showing its importance in regulating social behaviour in humans.
A group of researchers from Princeton University, Oregon State University, and other institutions discovered distinct genetic insertions in chromosome 6 of dogs tied to a tendency to seek out humans for physical contact and attention. Now, a team of researchers claimed to have found why dogs are particularly gregarious and friendly in nature.
The insertions, known as transposons, were detected in a genomic region connected to Williams-Beuren syndrome, a developmental delay where intense sociability is one symptom. What is most astounding about this story is that the dog had never been to the graveyard before and the dog actually found the correct gravestone with no assistance from humans. Deletion of this region in humans is linked to Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS), a multisystem congenital disorder characterized by hypersocial behavior.
It is the first study to integrate behavioral and genetic data to understand the molecular underpinnings of changes that occurred to the social behavior of dogs during domestication, said Udell, director of the Human-Animal Interaction Lab in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.
This research "may be one of the first studies to ever identify the specific genetic variants that were important for turning wolves into dogs", Cornell University biologist Adam Boyko tells The New York Times. However, new research has suggested that the two species share an underlying genetic basis for being so darn friendly. Meanwhile, eight of the ten wolves opened the box when a human was present, and nine of them opened the box when the human had left. This supported previous research from the study authors linking hypersociability in dogs with their genetic code.
Quake kills two tourists on Greek holiday island
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Scientists have found strong biological links between this boundless geniality and a "hyper-sociability" syndrome in humans, suggesting that dogs may have evolved to become friendlier and more child-like to secure their survival.
This section of chromosome contains unusual genetic materials that are related to a dog's desire for human company and contact.
"What we see is that wolves, when we put down this container, they immediately go to the task".
The scientists started out by testing how 18 dogs and 10 wolves behave around people.
Through sequencing DNA from these blood samples and comparing them to how the dogs performed in the behavioral tests, vonHoldt and Udell were able to show significant differences in the drive to socialize with humans between dogs and wolves, according to the study. Both the dogs and wolves were quick to approach the people, but the wolves tended to wander away after just a few seconds. There was the animal and the human in the room. The dogs, however, were much friendlier.